Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Smile

She cut my class day before yesterday. Well, that's not precisely true. When she didn't show up, I called her Mom, who failed to answer the phone. That was not a huge problem--Mom likely speaks only Chinese, and I don't speak it at all. But then I noticed she'd written her own cell number too, so I called her. She said she was on her way, and would make it for the second period of my double-period class. Half a loaf is better than none, so I told her to hurry up.

Only she never showed.

So yesterday, when she did, I told another girl to tell her I wasn't speaking to her, which the girl did with great delight. I folded my hands like one of those guys who sends the poor waif into the snow in an old movie. Predictably, that didn't work at all. So I asked her directly why she didn't come, and she told a sad story about security guards not letting her in or something. It sounded viable, but I felt the need to tell her she needed to show up, she shouldn't be late, and all that teacher stuff they pay me to tell kids.

But she just nodded her head and smiled, and I couldn't stay mad at her. I wanted to, though, so I enlisted the help of my friend who teaches Chinese. Once she gets yelled at in her native language, I figured, things would clear up immediately. But the Chinese teacher, who I know is well-equipped to yell (she yells at me all the time), seemed to lose steam in the face of the girl's smile. Where was the rancor? Where were the withering looks that turned crazy teenagers into shaking masses of jelly?

There was no hope whatsoever. This girl just kept smiling. Something inside her made her happy with herself, and no matter how we tried to shake her, she was determined to stay that way. Somehow, she was smarter than both of us. 

How dare she be like that at 14 years old!
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